Niagara Gazette — Getting rid of radioactive material buried in at the Niagara Falls Storage Site has become an item of great concern in Lewiston.
Now residents are finally able to glimpse the possibilities identified as the possible future by the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the monitoring and maintenance of the 10-acre site on the grounds of the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works.
Wednesday’s discussion focused solely on the above-ground clay and soil cap which protects the outside world from the harmful radioactive materials buried below. It’s a cap the Army Corps believes has a shelf life of 50 years, which would expire in approximately 2024.
Identified in the study, the five possibilities for clean up are:
• No action, which includes the lack of monitoring in the future, which representatives admitted was not a viable option but required as part of federal law guiding the Army Corps’s process.
• Enhancing containment by improving the above-ground cap with more ground soil and a geomembrane roughly the thickness of two credit cards on top of each other. The slopes of the cap would also be reduced to minimize the affect of rain and other natural elements, according to lead engineer Dan Delp. This alternative would require continued monitoring of the site by the Army Corps or the Department of Energy.
• Enhancing the cap while removing and treating the most hazardous of materials buried in the ground. This method would remove about 10 percent of the stored materials but 98 percent of the radioactivity, Delp said. This alternative would require continued monitoring of the site by the Army Corps or the Department of Energy.
• Enhancing the cap and removing the entire south section of the buried materials. This would reduce the size of the cap needed while eliminating 33 percent of the materials at the site and 99 percent of the radioactivity.
• Complete removal of the materials, which would result in the restoration of the site entirely, removing the cap.
With each identified, the next step will be to evaluate each individually. The remedial alternatives will be put through a process of analyzing the effectiveness and possibility of being implemented, studying each for long and short term effectiveness, cost, possibility of implementation and other factors.
From those identified as possible, the group will be compared against each other to determine which is the most feasible, according to Army Corps representative Bill Kowalewski. The final decision isn’t expected until 2015, with work on whatever is agreed upon not expected until at least 2016.
“Whichever one floats to the top, that’ll be in the proposed plan,” he said. “Right now, it’s scheduled to be released in 2015.”Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.